A man was beaten, stomped on and bashed in the head with a chair during a vicous brawl Friday night in the food court of the Garden State Plaza in Paramus, authorities said.
The melee ignited a panic, with people running for the exits -- and some wrongly telling police they heard gunshots -- around 7 p.m.
It also sent the 26-year-old victim from Paterson to the hospital with serious injuries, Police Chief Kenneth Ehrenberg said.
Ehrenberg's officers were joined by colleagues from Rochelle Park, Maywood and Fair Lawn who converged on the mall and restored order quickly, witnesses said.
Paramus Police Officer William Stallone quickly captured ex-con Alexander Nieves, 25, of Paterson.
Officer Ryan Hayo nabbed the 17-year-old suspect, also from Paterson, nabbed in the south parking deck moments later.
Nieves had only just been released from state prison in February after serving three years in connection with a shooting in Paterson. He'd also previously served time for a similar incident, records show.
More arrests were expected as detectives review security camera footage and field tips phoned in by civilians, Ehrenberg said.
"The suspects and the victim knew each other and the attack was not random," the chief said.
Ehrenberg said officers on foot patrol at the mall rushed to the food court Friday night to find peole "fighting and throwing chairs at each other."
Some were wearing ski masks, he noted.
Police rendered first aid to the victim, whom Nieves had struck in the head with a chair and the teen had punched and stomped, the chief said. Paramus EMS took him to Hackensack University Medical Center, where he was listed in serious condition.
Nieves remained held in the Bergen County Jail pending a first appearance in Central Judicial Processing Court. He's charged with aggravated assault and weapons possession (the chair).
Police signed a delinquency complaint charging the juvenile with aggravated assault and released him to a parent, Ehrenberg said.
ANYONE who might have witnessed the incident or has information that helps identify other participants is asked to contact Paramus police at: (201) 262-3400. Or use the department's anonymous tips app at paramuspolice.org.
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